Soil scientist Dr Trish Fraser has won the 2020 Women of Influence Rural Award for 2020.
The Women of Influence awards attracted 339 nominations across ten categories, with 81 finalists shortlisted for the awards dinner at the Aotea Centre in Auckland on Tuesday night.
Fraser manages a team of seven at Plant & Food Research, where she has worked for almost 30 years.
The judges said Fraser had the rare skill of communicating science to both farmers and consumers, and praised her collaborative approach.
She also studied ways to help arable farms become more environmentally sustainable and more productive.
"For the last 30 years I've been helping the arable industry in particular, to help them understand more about how the soil works," Fraser told The Country's Jamie Mackay.
Fraser's research included studying earthworms.
"I probably spent about 10 or 15 years studying earth worms, because they're very important creatures in the soil."
Environmental issues had become more important to farming over the years, and Fraser's work with nitrate leeching had proved valuable.
There had been a lack of understanding over the impact some nitrates had on soil, over the years, said Fraser.
"We've changed some of the practices that farmers conduct - they understand that they shouldn't be putting on lots of fertilisers at once - they should be putting on a little often."
Fraser's research also included studying the impacts of crop residue management practices and tillage practices in crop farming systems, and how they affected nutrient losses from soil.
Fraser lived on a 20-hectare farmlet and farmed beef cattle, which gave her additional insight into current farming issues.
The awards recognised that Fraser worked closely with farmers to understand their needs, research solutions to address their problems, and that she transferred her knowledge through training and outreach.
Also in today's interview: Fraser talked about research on how to minimise nitrate leeching in dairy farms.